Pennsylvania has moved quickly to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal prohibition on sports betting. Since the law was passed, the commonwealth has generated more than $385 million in gambling revenues, and the statehouse is by no means stopping there. In addition to what has already been put into Pennsylvania’s coffers, the forward-thinking jurisdiction will soon be adding a new revenue stream from electronic gaming machines coming soon to local Rutter convenience stores.
Penn National Gaming plans to install Video Gaming Terminals (“VGT”) in five of York Country’s Rutter convenience stores. VGT’s are comparable to a regular slot machine found in a casino, and every VGT player uses real cash. Wins and losses on VGTs are determined randomly, just like today’s computerized casino games.
The Rutter truck stops will be allowed to install and maintain up to five terminals that will accept cash only. The VGTs at Rutter shops will have a maximum bet of $5 and a maximum payout of $1,000. Players will also be playing against each other, rather than the house, which attracts many would-be gamblers to the machines that prefer to avoid the casino scene.
According to gaming board spokesman Dough Harbach, Pennsylvania has approved the installation of VGT’s at nearly 23 truck stop locations throughout Pennsylvania. Applications to open similar gaming terminals continue to flood into the board, as 20 Rutter’s stores are still awaiting approval for VGT installation. The board currently has 36 VGT applications pending altogether, and they’re expecting even more to roll in as Pennsylvania’s gaming scene continues to grow.
The decision to move gaming into Rutter stores is partially based on the policy’s potential tax benefits. More than half of the revenue earned from gambling will go to the state. Breaking it down further, 42% of profit will go to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, and 10% of grants will be awarded to any county by the Commonwealth Finance Agency. These financial gains were an important consideration for the expansion of gaming in Pennsylvania.
Gaming is big business, and Rutter truck stops aren’t stopping at VGTs. Rutter has also announced the launch of its new gambling website, winrutters.com. The site allows customers to play the slot machine game ‘Spin and Win’ and potentially win free merchandise from the store through playing on the betting website. Clearly, Rutter and other private companies are very excited for the funds that expanded betting in the state will bring. But what about Pennsylvania’s communities?
The revenue coming in from legalized gambling has already brought in what averages out to be nearly $1 million per day. According to Jessica Welman, Analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com, this number has profoundly surpassed the states estimates. However, most of this revenue is not coming in the form of tax revenue acquired from gamblers, but rather from the fees collected from the games and casinos themselves. The fact that Pennsylvania’s gambling is opening up new public revenue streams in a consumer and tourist-friendly manner is gathering a lot of support for gaming across the mid-Atlantic region.